How much is your car worth?

Normally, if a garage estimates that the cost of repairs is more than about three quarters of the value of your car, then the insurance company may decide that the car is a write-off.

This is because it's quite likely that when the garage carries out repairs, they'll find further damage, and a car that has been repaired after an accident will usually be worth less than it was before the accident.

In summary

  • If a garage estimates that the cost of repairs is more than about three quarters of the value of your car, then the insurance company may decide that it is a write-off
  • If you want to challenge the amount you are offered, you will have to prove that it is worth more
  • If you cannot get evidence, you may have to refer your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

Putting a value on your vehicle

In deciding the value of your vehicle, insurers will normally start by looking at one of the recognised guides for second-hand car prices, such as Glass’s.

In order to challenge the amount offered you'll need proof that it's worth more. Examples you could use include: 

  • advertisements of similar models online
  • statement of its worth from a number of car dealers
  • proof of any modifications that would have added to its value

You may also wish to contact the Institute of Automotive Engineer Assessors, who'll give you the name of a value assessor in your area. 

You can call the Institute on 01543 266906

Don't forget to factor in the cost of getting a valuation and consider whether it's worth the expense, as this would eat into the overall amount you get back.

Use Financial Ombudsman Service

If the insurer refuses to accept your evidence suggesting that your vehicle is worth more than the insurance company is prepared to pay, then you can refer your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). 

The FOS deals with the unfair treatment of customers by insurance companies, poor service and poor administration, and where there's simply a difference of opinion, for example, over the value of a car.

You usually have six months from the time you meet deadlock with the insurer in which to make a complaint. 

Awards recommended by FOS are binding on companies but not on the consumer, so if you wish you could refer the matter to court.

Under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA), insurance companies have an obligation to act fairly and have to meet the standards set out in the FCA Handbook of Rules and Guidance.

Principle 6 requires a firm to 'pay due regard to the interests of its customers and treat them fairly.'

Principle 7 requires a firm to 'pay due regard to the information needs of its customers, and communicate information to them in a way which is clear, fair and not misleading.'

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